Tribal Cat Tribal Horse With Ubuntu Made From Kenya

This is the story of a unique collaboration between Zazzle Inc., Ubuntu Made and artists around the world.

Ubuntu Made is part of the non-profit Ubuntu Life which began as a friendship between Zane Wilemon and Jeremiah Kuria, a Kenyan minister in a small town on the outskirts of Nairobi by the name of Maai Mahiu. That friendship blossomed into a venture that included a cafe, a farm with organic produce, clinics, a special needs school and a sustainable accessories line. The accessories line, hand crafted by members of the Maasai tribe, resulted in collaborations with brands such as Whole Foods, American Eagle and now Zazzle, and is now on track to turn Ubuntu into a full-fledged lifestyle brand. With the Zazzle partnership, the Maasai are creating items that will be turned into high end personalized gifts and keepsakes.

This summer, they’re re-launching themselves in a new light. Undergoing a rebranding process: the non-profit which was once called CTC International is now Ubuntu Life, and the accessories line, Ubuntu Made. Their wares includes bags, clutches, iPhone covers, bandanas, bangles, and keychains. Plus, wine bottle carriers (which cheekily read, “Save the Wino”) and mug holders are sold at 450 Whole Foods stores in the country. Silicon Valley-based Zazzle, a marketplace for handmade items, partnered with the African non-profit to introduce their new line of iPhone covers, bags, and keychains. Ubuntu provides the locally-sourced leather; Zazzle can customize it with images and text, etched directly onto the leather. – Forbes.com article

When Zazzle first announced it’s new Zazzle Heart 2.0 “The Adventure Collection” I was immediately inspired by the story behind the new products and wanted to make something special for this unique line. I thought of “Cat Jobs” which was my postcard donation to the Twitter Art Exhibit in February. That postcard art sent to New York City was my first tribal style cat and I had always planned on someday creating more tribal style animals because the #twitterartexhibit donation had turned out so well. I had the feeling that the laser-etching process being used in The Adventure Collection would work beautifully with the tattoo art style, so I eventually sat down and did another sleeping cat. I was right. The brand new version of my tribal cat drawing looks so cool on the Ubuntu Made products!


collection of sleeping tribal cat drawing on ubuntu made products
The Adventure Collection currently consists of seven exclusive products: a leather key fob, leather iPhone 6 pouch, leather travel bag or clutch purse, a leather journal, a classic leather tote bag and two waxed canvas items, a travel journal and a carry-all tote bag. I have designed all seven Ubuntu Made products with my sleeping tribal cat artwork and included a text template on each one, making it easy for customers to add a name and create a unique personalized gift for him, although the Name Here option can also be removed from the items if one prefers a design only product. These leather and canvas goods make fun and thoughtful personalized gifts for cat lovers of all ages. Continue reading

The Curious Case Of Amazon Counterfeiters

As Amazon ramps up for its second annual Prime Day sale on Tuesday, July 12th, I feel the need to express my feelings about this company that is turning huge profits and stands to rake in even more money built around the highly anticipated Amazon Prime Day 2016 event.

I’m angry.

Before I go further, let me tell you that I used to love Amazon. I still have the index card where I jotted down my login information when I first became a member at Amazon.com and my join date is November 28, 1999. Yes, I was shopping on Amazon when all they sold was books and Y2K had not happened yet. Or not NOT happened yet, as it turned out. My point being that I have been a loyal customer of Amazon’s for 17 years, but right now the relationship feels like a best friend who has betrayed me. It feels like the company has set aside it’s morals and ethics in favor of skirting the legal line in order to advance profits.

I’m so distraught that I suggest you read this article about artists and our stolen work on Amazon from May of this year. It will make more sense than I can in my current state.

Designers of custom T-shirts, iPhone cases and pillow covers who sell their work through websites like Zazzle and Society6 are seeing copies of their products pop up at an alarming rate on Amazon.

The sellers, often hawking the items for a fraction of the price of the originals, range from fraudsters trying to make a quick buck to apparent bots scraping listings from other commerce sites.

In going through the formal take-down request process that Amazon requires, online merchants are not only wasting precious hours, but they’re seeing the number of fakes multiply.        |

And Amazon doesn’t make reporting and removing the infringements easy for artists. Even when Zazzle.com worked with Amazon to provide a specialized version of the standard DMCA take down notice for Zazzle designers sent to a special email address, Amazon often replied with obfuscations and delaying tactics. “Use our online form” or “you need to provide better links” and “we apologize but you need to log into your seller account first.”

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Shark Week 2016 vs. TWD Dead White And Blue Marathon

Happy Shark Week!

Shark Stuff in my Zazzle store
Now you know me, I’m such a geek, and every year I live for Shark Week. Well, not literally but you know what I mean. So as soon as I saw the first commercial announcing that Discovery Channel’s Shark Week 2016 was starting Sunday night June 26th at 8 pm I was understandably excited. My first thought was boy, is it my imagination or does this festival of shark geekiness start earlier and earlier every year? Then a second and more serious revelation entered my shark fevered brain… This is awfully close to 4th Of July and we all know what THAT means:

AMC’s annual Dead, White and Blue marathon! Days upon days of back to back episodes of The Walking Dead from season one straight on up to the last episode of the last season. Well, since we are about to start season seven of TWD, that’s a whole lot of episodes and OH MY GOSH NO! IS THIS GOING TO CONFLICT WITH SHARK WEEK!?!

So I did what any self respecting nerd would do, I immediately googled the air dates for the Dead, White and Blue marathon 2016 while holding my breath just a little. The page was still refreshing and already I was feeling the inner turmoil of having to choose between two utterly fantastic television experiences that highlight my summer each year. I mean, it was bad enough back when I first had to decide between The Twilight Zone July 4th marathon on the SyFy channel and The Walking Dead zombiefest. In the earlier years I was still able to catch most of the Twilight Zone episodes because there were not that many TWD seasons. But lately The Twilight Zone always loses out except for sneak peaks during commercials.

I know, I know, I could just purchase or record all of TWD seasons and watch them whenever I want, but it’s not the same thing. I like the geeky experience of tuning in live, as it happens.
Funny Zombie stuff in my Redbubble shop
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Fear The Walking Dead Season 2 Mid-Season Finale

So the mid-season finale of Fear The Walking Dead Season Two was last night.

And I don’t care.

I mean, I watched it. There wasn’t much anticipation on my part, I totally admit. I completely forgot that it was mid-season finale night until about 7:45 so I missed any FTWD  marathon fun that AMC may have run yesterday. Again, I didn’t much care.

But why not? Well, maybe it’s because the Spanish language dialog has continued to increase over the episodes, resulting in more caption text on the television screen for the English speaking crowd. Now, on Sunday nights I get all comfy on the couch, cuddled up with blankies and the cat sometimes, and see, the TV is way over there against the far wall. Normaly I can see everything just fine, but those itsy bitsy teeny weeny captions on the screen are beyond the power of my glasses. If I sit up and shift over to the right side of the couch, I can read them. Laying down in my happy zombie night position, I cannot. And honestly, I have not cared enough to shift my viewing position in order to read the Spanish dialog translated to English in minuscule lettering on my television screen.

I get it. Daniel is from South America, they are now in Mexico, there is a major Latin influence going on in the story arch. But there is atmosphere to flavor a story and then there is overkill. Fear The Walking Dead isn’t a telenovela so in my opinion all this Spanish/English subtitles stuff is overkill. Yes, I knew what a telenovela was ages ago thanks to Jeff Lewis’s housekeeper aka second mom Zoila on Bravo’s Flipping Out. Even Zoila spoke mostly English so I never had to shift my position on the couch to understand the gist of the story. With Fear The Walking Dead, lately I have taken to just laying there, not understanding what the characters are saying for huge chunks of an episode, not really giving a damn.

But I think the real reason why I didn’t care that much about FTWD’s mid-season finale last night is why I haven’t had much enthusiasm for season two as a whole – and I shared this with a friend the other day – I am still just plum pissed off about the Season Six Finale of The Walking Dead. Still haven’t got over the “who did Negan kill” pushing me off the cliff and having to hang there suspended for six months thing. Every Sunday night since then I have cuddled up with the cat to watch Fear The Walking Dead but I have felt cold and dead inside, seething a little in a it’s just a tv show but I’m still angry sort of way.

So between subtitles and lingering TWD fan anger, FTWD has not been enjoyable this time around. And that sucks. Cause normally I love, I treasure, my Sunday night zombies.

 

Who Did Negan Kill? TWD Season 6 Finale

I had a strong reaction to the season six finale of The Walking Dead. I felt the terror, the uncertainty of what was going to happen, then the absolute certainty that someone was going to die. I felt it all day, watching the Walking Dead marathon. Someone was going to die and for the first time since AMC originally aired this zombie apocalypse series in 2010, I felt dread instead of excitement as the hours counted down to the final episode of season 6. Of course people die but this time, I knew it was coming and it was going to be really, really bad. I kinda didn’t want to see it happen. But of course I watched. Duh.

And as I watched Negan smash someone’s brains out, fading into black with only faint, gruesome sounds in the background and then the credits rolled, I shook a little then both middle fingers flew up at the tv screen and I yelled “F you F you F you F you! EFFF YOU. F you F you… oh F you!” until The Talking Dead come on.

There was no one watching with me except the cat so it wasn’t for any audience of my own. It was a gut reaction, raw emotion bubbling up from my core. F YOU. F you for leaving me like that, still not knowing. F you.

I get that the writers and producers of the show wanted to leave us not knowing who Negan beat to a bloody pulp so we would have the same horror in our heads as the characters who had to shut up and watch it. The audience is supposed to be feeling the same terrible emotion knowing that everything we knew just changed. I get it. But I don’t like it one bit. Not one tiny bit.

I woke up Monday morning, kissed the cat and then said out loud “F you” a couple of times then made coffee. I thought back to the previous five seasons and the final scene. Sometimes we’ve had cliff hangers, pretty big ones, but nothing so awful as knowing someone just died a horrific death but nobody knows who it was.

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Twitter Art Exhibit 2016 New York City

My postcard art on the way to the 2016 Twitter Art Exhibit in New York City.

 photo twitter-art-exhibit-2016-theartofvikki_zpstcs9wuj0.jpg

Go Mister Mailman Go!

#twitterartexhibit

 

 

The X-Files 2016 Episode 1 Review

Thank you on demand cable – today I caught up on the two part premiere of the brand new X-Files Season 10. And may I say I was pleasantly surprised that The X-Files reboot delivered everything I wanted.

Let me backtrack a bit. Back when the X-Files premiered in 1993, it quickly became my favorite TV show ever. I have always been a sci-fi paranormal weird stuff geek. My mom took me to see Chariots Of The Gods when it was first released in theaters, although I was so very young at the time that I do not recall if I asked to see it or if she just took me cause SHE wanted to watch it. I know I had a copy of the book purchased at a rummage sale at school that I treasured. Later, In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy was my favorite thing on television. Yep, I was I was a nerd.

Thanks to a million channels on cable these days, I have my fill of geektacular shows like Ancient Aliens, Hanger One brought to you by MUFON, Finding Bigfoot, Monster Quest, UFO Files and various other programs featuring cryptic creatures, little green men and enough paranormal fodder to please and delight my inner child several times a week. But I digress.

Back to the original X-Files. Every episode was an event, every new season a celebration. When it aired on Friday nights, my geek friends and I planned our nights around Mulder and Scully; watch the new episode then out to the club to drink, dance and discuss in great detail just how awesome tonight’s episode was. The monsters and freaks are as fresh in my mind as if it was yesterday… Fluke Boy, Dark Matter, Eve 6, that old man with the dog, the circus episode… and The Lone Gunmen! Gawd, they were the best geek trio in all history of history. We had no on demand or dvr back then. We taped the shows on VCRs so we could watch the latest ep again and hit the rewind button. And we liked it.

But then, in the last couple of seasons, the shippers won. Fox and Dana, kissing and being all romantic; the mythology part of the series weaved it’s way into romance and for me, the X-Files lost it’s luster. It was quite distressing, feeling that distance growing between my favorite show and me. I felt an actual loss when I decided to stop watching. No more VCR, no more discussions with my friends. I was genuinely sad.

But wait. Fast forward that old VCR to today. As Season Ten Episode One began, Chris Carter made a brilliant decision… the music was the same, and the opening credits were identical, right down to the fonts on the screen. A part of me was transported back to the 1990’s and I smiled. It’s true, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully have aged a bit – haven’t we all – but they looked good. As the episode progressed, I felt like I was catching up with old friends, the kind of friends that you drifted apart from not because of anything bad but just because your interests changed. But it didn’t matter anymore, you were hanging out again and it was just fun.

The references to Mulder and Scully’s romantic past and child together were a bit of a broken eye roll for me, being that the Shipper stuff is why I drifted away back then. Oh well, whatever. It was fun seeing Walter Skinner (who hasn’t aged a bit) and The Smoking Man, and I enjoyed the up to the minute social references like Mulder showing up in an Uber car and that You-tube guy and his conspiracy theories about the government. When they touched on how different today’s world was now because of 9/11 I got a bit of a lump in my throat. That day affected me deeply. I threw away all of my VCR tapes, including the X-File copies, long ago, but somewhere upstairs I still have a tape of the short lived spin off Lone Gunmen show episode in March 2001 where they thwart a plot to fly a plane into the World Trade Center. Six months later 9/11 happened and I used that Lone Gunmen tape to record some of that day. I don’t even have a VCR anymore but still I keep that tape, with that episode and what happened after.

Anyway, so far I find The X-Files 2016 to be a refreshing and successful reunion with a television show that brought me such pleasure back in the day. I’m hoping the numbers are good enough that we might get more than just the initial six episodes. While clicking around to get to it today, the on demand channel was broadcasting sneak peeks of the upcoming season and for people like me, apparently there will be stand alone episodes with “monsters” and a funny episode, sprinkled in with the mythology. I’m good with that. No, The X-Files Season 10 is not a shiny new toy like Season 1 was. This is a comfortable old sweater, a favorite book you’ve read a million times, that familiar meal you order in the restaurant. Not everything needs to be shiny and new all the time, and if handled well, that old sweater can be just as nice as a new version. This new X-Files feels like coming home.

Colorful typography lettering and fonts

I’ve been on an artistic adventure the last few months, creating personalized art in the form of colorful letters. What started as a brief blip of an idea late one afternoon in early fall turned into quite the little project! I still have two more patterns ready to be transformed and another two or seven in my head, but here is what I have completed so far and made available for purchase in my shop on Redbubble

blue and white stripes letters monograms initials

Framed blue watercolor stripes typography art

These are my blue and white stripes watercolor initials and were the first ones I made. I started with a piece of paper, my paintbox and a medium brush. Simple slightly wavy lines painted in soothing strokes filled the paper in varying tones of navy, sky blue and white until I was pleased with the result. I then scanned the painting into my computer.

red and white watercolor stripes letters monograms initials

Framed red watercolor stripes typography art

Above are my red and white stripes watercolor letters. I used the same technique and painted the watercolor crimson, cherry and pink in various tones, leaving small areas of paper showing through as the white.

After scanning the base art into the computer, I created letter template “cutouts” that could be applied over the base layer design, leaving the shapes of the letters to stand on their own. And I liked it!

metallic look stripes letters monograms initials

Framed metallic marker stripes typography art

The faux animal print letters above are from my metallic look series. I was wandering the aisles at the local drug store when my eyes landed on a pack of metallic Sharpie markers in silver, gold AND copper. They were pricey at $6.00+ for the set but I had to have them for my colorful alphabet project. The base design for these were much more time consuming, creating the wavy lines on paper bit by bit and then coloring it all in. I went through several movies and some bad reality television while finishing the background art for the final monograms. I don’t know if anyone else will see the metallic finish the way I do, but I like the feel of shimmery zebra stripes or tiger stripes in the finished letters.

So those are my first three sets of colorful letters finished to date, and each one is available in all letters of the alphabet. My next sets will be a design in red, orange and yellow and the other is a delightfully psychedelic mix of purple, blue and green. The second one is either 1960’s mod or 1970’s groovy, I’m not sure yet. But that is for another day…

Happy Shark Week

I can’t believe Shark Week is almost over! It all started on Sunday, July 5th and Discovery Chanel’s 2015 Findependence has been a wild ride. My favorite new offerings so far have been Super Predator (poor little Alpha One getting chased and eaten like that), Bride Of Jaws – Joan Of Shark is the best shark name EVER – and Alien Sharks: Close Encounters. Paul Clerkin loves his spooky fish!

Still to come is Sharksantity 2 tonite at 9 pm, the continued marathon all day tomorrow, and the last new shark adventure Shark Island premiering at 8pm Sunday night, July 12th.

I still remember watching the very first Shark Week back in 1988. My boyfriend at the time called and said “I’m coming over, Shark Week starts tonight”. I sounded just like that dude in Jaws when Richard Dreyfuss says “it’s a tiger shark” and the guy says “It’s a what???” And I’ve been watching it every year ever since.

#sharkweek truly is The Most Wonderful Week Of The Year!

Twitter Art Exhibit 2015 – Moss, Norway

The 2015 Twitter Art Exhibit, held this year in Moss, Norway and curated by founder and fellow artist David Sandum, opened on March 12th and closes March 26th. This year’s international exhibition of original postcard art is benefiting Home-Start Moss, a nonprofit organization helping families in need.

My contribution to the 2015 postcard gallery is this colorful red, purple, orange and yellow polka dot zebra titled “One Of A Kind”. This piece is a 4 3/4″ x 6 1/4″ original acrylic painting on heavy card stock.

This is my third Twitter Art Exhibit and it’s wonderful knowing my art can travel the world and help others!